Kogi Govt Seals Off First Bank Branches Over N411m Tax Default

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Kogi State Government on Tuesday sealed off all branches of First Bank PLC operating in the state for failure to remit N411.12 million in taxes to the coffer of the state.

A Kogi State High Court sitting in Lokoja gave the seal order in a suit filed by the state government against the bank.

The seal order was immediately carried out by officials from the Kogi State Internal Revenue Service (KGIRS).

Speaking with journalists in his office, Director, Legal Services of the KGIRS, Barr. Saidu I. Okino, said the amount represents outstanding withholding tax from the bank’s mobile banking agents from 2015 to 2022.

He said that the action of the board was as a result of the refusal of the bank to liquidate the liability, despite several several demand notices to that effect.

Okino said that approaching the court was as a last resort as all other measures to make the bank pay up proved abortive.

”Before we went to court, there was a Demand Notice to that effect dated 12th day of October 2021 and signed by the then acting chairman, Abubakar Yusuf.

“We made several attempts we sent them a notice of the intention of the service to take warrant of distrain so that we can do whatever is needful, on 25th day of February, 2022 but was ignored.

“On the 25th of August, 2022 Notice of Refusal to amend their liability was served on them. We did not on our own roll out our machineries to go and seal,” he said.

He said that KGIRS had to approach the court through a motion ex-parte number HC/457M/202, dated August 29 and filed August 30th, 2022.

KGIRS, he said, prayed for an order of the court to execute warrant of distrain against the defendant by her goods, chattels, bonds, security or any other property.

It also sought distrain upon the land, office, business premises or place of management of the defendant (First Bank Nigeria Limited)’s offices in Lokoja, Okene, Kabba, Ajaokuta and any other movable property of the defendant found within the jurisdiction of Kogi State.

The Board also sought an order that the defendant bears the cost of executing the distrain in pursuance of section 104(5) of PITA and section 51(5) of the Kogi State Harmonized Tax Law, 2017, as accessed in the sum of N250,000 per site each day.

The presiding judge, Justice Rukkayat Ayoola, in her ruling, granted, all the reliefs sought in the motion ex-parte supported by an eight-paragraph affidavit and deposed by Mohammed Ibrahim, a civil servant.

“The order for the defendant’s failure and or refusal to liquidate her debt to Kogi State Government in the sum of N411,120,966.77 being the outstanding tax liabilities owed the Kogi State Government for the years 2015 to 2020 is hereby granted,” Ayoola said.

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